Sheriff’s Office reminders as school set to begin

The Sheriff’s Office will be out in force this week with safety in mind as children return to school beginning Wednesday morning.

Deputies will be patrolling school zones in marked and unmarked cars to make sure drivers realize school is back in session. They will also be concentrating on areas surrounding schools and school bus stops writing tickets to anyone not obeying the speed limits or to those illegally passing school buses.

“I have a no-tolerance policy for people who choose to speed in school zones, and for those who illegally pass school buses,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “We will be out in force in both marked and unmarked cars watching for violators.”

Florida law states: On a two-way street or highway, all drivers moving in either direction must stop for a stopped school bus that is picking up or dropping off children. You must remain stopped until all children are clear of the roadway and the bus signal has been withdrawn. If the highway is divided by a raised barrier or an unpaved median at least five feet wide, you do not have to stop if you are moving in the opposite direction of the bus. Painted lines or pavement markings are not considered to be barriers. If you are moving in the same direction as the bus, you must always stop — and not go forward until the bus signal has been withdrawn.

Anyone driving should make an extra effort to watch out for students, who may not be paying attention to traffic. Be especially careful in neighborhoods, areas with bus stops, and near schools themselves.

Whether you have kids in school or not, be ready to adjust your schedule to accommodate the traffic slowdowns that occur. It is worth allowing a little more time to get around to be sure that all kids are safe on their way to and from school.

It is up to all motorists to ensure our schoolchildren are safe. Please do your part and be aware.

Children and parents should also remember: If a child rides a bicycle to school, Florida law requires anyone under the age of 16 to wear a helmet. A violation of this requirement can result in a $25 fine.

Here are some child safety tips for parents to keep in mind:

  • If your child is walking to or from school, walk the route with them beforehand. Choose the most direct way, and be sure the route has sufficient sidewalks, lighting and crossing guards. If a crossing guard is absent, be sure your child knows when it is safe to cross the street.
  • Make sure your child walks to and from school with other trusted schoolmates and follows the tried and true axiom, “Never talk to strangers.”
  • Teach your kids to obey all traffic signals when walking or biking to school.
  • When waiting for the school bus always stand on the sidewalk, away from the roadway.
  • Be sure your child knows how to reach you in case of an emergency.
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